Blogging has gone viral; it seems everyone with a computer is now some form of blogger.
Recently released data from Statista indicates that now there are over 426 million blogs registered on Tumblr alone up from 358 million last year and with the ruler of CMS WordPress responsible for generating over 91 million posts per month, it’s fair to say it’s turned into a severe passion not just a past-time for many people. In the world of blogging these kinds of figures are met ion a positive and negative light.
Over time the lines have been drawn, and the difference between being a casual blogger and being a successful money-making blogger is clear.
Of these figures, only a small percentage of these make a full-time living from it. It’s also clear to say that a large percentage of these benefit from top quality design. In any arena that has become saturated in a short space of time, any edge that helps to make you stand out is crucial, and in the myriad of blogs, a well-designed, trendy blog will keep you ahead of the game.
A Bloggers Window of Opportunity
As websites, blogs and the internet, in general, evolves certain areas are becoming clear.
At first, it was all about design and sales were driven by stunning visuals, then slowly but surely the dynamics changed. Millennials have affected recent online marketing campaigns to be more content driven where engagement is paramount over just design. It’s fair to say we have seen extremes.
It fair to say that high-quality engaging, creative content is vital to getting and keeping a reader’s attention through to point-of-sale but we are now on the rebound of that, coming back to the realisation that you need both quality content, but you also need to stand out from the crowd to grab that reader in the first place.
Content still ranks highest on the list of importance with reader preferences, a cumulative average over several studies conducted in the past two years shows 30% state that content gives a blog the most credibility and 17% with good design. I don’t see that changing soon and you’d be unwise to go against that grain; however, it’s fair to stay that many people are still stimulated by visuality, and as a blogger, you should not ignore that.
A human brain is stimulated through visual cues way faster than it is by text, and never before has so much information been open to so many, creating shorter attention spans in the process.
So it is still fair to say that the visual appearance of a website has its worth, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression in the online world, you must imprint on the mind immediately. You must project that positive brand image instantly.
Grabbing Them and Keeping Them
So with the extremes, I covered earlier we are now fully aware that a pretty picture alone isn’t going to cut it. The goal of the blogger is to make people come back, garnering repeat traffic is the key to success.
What you do have to be careful of is letting the visual stimulation fade as the content takes over, as not enhancing the visual side can lead to it becoming stale, resulting in readers looking elsewhere, again attention spans are not what they used to be.
This is the time when you need to have an impact on their behaviour and use new trendy visuals. There are options out there that and not time-consuming to keep giving your blog that new fresh look and keep driving traffic your way.
For example, the number of themes it seems on WordPress are endless, but there is a marked distinction between a free generic theme and a custom designed theme.
So now you are thinking about the design aspect and valuing its importance, the next step is to achieve it. My advice is to assume nothing and your tastes and preferences mean little. If you start there, you start with a level head. Being open-minded to what’s trending, on the other hand, is a MUST.
Keeping On Top
It’s essential to keep pace with web design, contrary to what some might think, so if you are serious about making cash from blogging, you must take the time to educate yourself.
Look at the latest stunning designs from this year, for example, get inspired. However, copying is not the ticket, use a theme and better the idea, add to it. Have the following clear in your mind:
.Your Brand Mission
Let these govern your design choices. If you need to break into social media, then you’ll need to integrate social buttons for example and add comment sections.
If you can’t achieve the level you desire then look to outsource. A small investment now will pay for itself further down the road if you put the required effort in.
I can’t stress enough about keeping up with trends, yes there is a multitude of trends all over the internet, and it feels at saturation point, but I’m talking about game-changing trends.
Mobile traffic now sits atop the tree over desktop driven searches, accounting for around 52% of global traffic which is having a profound effect on the design world.
The standard elements of design have had to be adjusted to screen sizes of a 6th of what they were previously. No-one can afford to have non-optimized imagery, unreadable text or smooth layout. So take advantage of responsive design, this technique lends itself to both visuality and functionality of your blog.
The Holy Grail
The understanding of the relationship between content and design.
I would need another lifetime to explain it with pure clarity, so let’s keep it to the basics.
As a blogger, you dare not let imagery compromise or overshadow your content, and brand message. Find the balance of imagery that defines your core message, not imaging that distracts the audience, remember we have touched upon attention spans already.
Space and Infographics
If used well can help to break up endless (albeit well written) chunks of text, into more manageable bite-sized morsels of easily digested content.
Colours have a big part to play. It helps set the mood, 2018 has seen a lot of marketing campaigns in various industries go back to bold and bright colouration, so keeping up with trends in this area is again paramount.
In the recent past, the trend was to match background colour with text, helping to enhance user experience. Subtly has its place, but sharp contrast is also fashionable and can be useful to direct your reader away from aspects you deem less relevant and help them to focus on what you want.
Last but far from least are fonts. Fonts are the epitome of psychology when it comes to the online world. It is to the online world what clothing accessories are to you in public; it’s a significant part of your overall image. It’s the final touch and is predominantly used to evoke an emotion in the reader.
Clean, professionalism and authority are three terms that spring to mind. We tend to see lifestyle, beauty and photography blogs go with the script font family for example. But it is not a one-size-fits-all solution, be sure to experiment as much as time will allow before settling.
The main message is clear: Keep up-to-date with what’s hot and trending, but always keep yourself ground to your brand, your niche and your target market. Professional blogging is not for part-timers, put in the hard work, you’ll need plenty of creative energy to share with others to get them on-board. There’s a lot of noise out there you need to shout louder.
Content may still be the main course and design merely the dessert, but the reality is with the competition out there you need to find a way to make them work together. Align the two, follow new and robust web design practices and align it with solid, engaging well-written content and you’ll get noticed.
If you’re a blogger let me know how design tweaks have affected your results, have they increased your traffic?
Paula Timpson is an avid tech blogger with a love of all sports and cookery which she also writes about. She is associated with an SEO company in Australia.